In 1983, Def Leppard released the classic rock song “Too Late for Love.” Despite how perfectly that song describes my current feelings towards the dismal fate that awaited the conclusion of the Mega Man X series, I know that singer Joe Elliott couldn't have been singing about Capcom's failings given the series first brick wouldn't be laid until a decade later. So, that said, when we get right down to it, is Maverick Hunter X a nice remake? Definitely, I couldn't imagine telling anyone anything otherwise. Still, nothing short of a case of amnesia can make me forget that Mega Man X5 was mediocre, X6 was cash-in garbage, X7's 3D wrote a check it’s tush couldn't cash and that X8 stuck out in bottom of the ninth in the storyline department. Indeed, it is too late for love and the curtain has definitely fallen.
However, such painful chapters aside, Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X is yet another in a long line of solid remakes for the PSP. I'm not as under whelmed as that last sentence makes me out to be but there really isn't that much to say. If you liked the original, you'll be right at home here. I love how even subtle changes (mainly the rearrangement of the capsules) changes the true and tired path I've relied on for years to get through the original, and it's nice to see that some of the bosses (like Storm Eagle and Armored Armadillo) have been made a bit more challenging. Unfortunately, that last part that doesn't always hold true. There are several occasions where the game is actually easier than the original when set on normal difficulty. Why would you make a boss like Spark Mandrill an even bigger pushover, allowing him to be frozen with every shot of the Shotgun Ice? Same goes for the last boss who’s been even given a new (and insanely pointless) attack, and don’t even get me started on how deadly the overdone knock-back from enemy attacks can be.
As small as such follies are everything eventually comes back to the storyline and the unlockable “The Day of Sigma” video. Given that the only back-story the original had to go on was passages from Dr. Cain's journal in the instruction manual, The Day of Sigma offers a treasure-trove of information on how the conflict between the mavericks and humans started. It's great to have some more narrative to chew on, but adding to the vast list of inconsistencies that plague the series canon at this point is unwise. On another, somewhat related note, why are some the in-game animations almost comical in nature? X's running animation, Launch Octopus' hit animation and Bospider's landing animations make me think twice about the X series being more serious in nature than original series.
If all the above wasn't enough, the biggest question Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X raises is why did Capcom feel a remake was necessary in the first place? I recently replayed Mega Man X on the SNES late last year and – to no surprise – it's held up extremely well over the years, much more than its two immediate successors. Unlike Lunar: Silver Star Harmony where another whirl helped change my opinion about the underlying product to a certain degree, this take does little to enhance or dilute my thoughts on the experience at its core. In other words, the time spent updating this classic could have been spent doing something much more productive. Then again, given the state of creativeness in the world of video games today maybe not.
Despite the contempt I hold for some things Mega Man, I know I can't hold Maverick Hunter X responsible for the sins of its successors, which are technically its forbearers in this case. Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately – this doesn't change the fact it really didn't need to be remade, nor do any of its sequels. The game is worth nabbing and adding to your collection if you can get a good deal on it, just be aware that it's still a shallow product despite being an enhanced version of a SNES classic.